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William & Mary’s Blockchain Lab Begins Governance Research with a Gift from the Factom Protocol

The mission of the W&M Blockchain Lab is to convene a diverse group of stakeholders to support collaborative research and social impact entrepreneurship in the blockchain and decentralized technology space. Since the Lab is a collaboration between W&M’s Entrepreneurship Hub and W&M's Global Research Institute, its spirit is in the combination of entrepreneurial thinking with applied research to make real world impacts. 

The Lab, which is led by Troy Wiipongwii, has had several noteworthy successes since its inception in February 2020. One such success includes receiving funding from Factom Protocol via a collaborative proposal with Damien Nichols and Matt York of MaxCollab. 

 The research sponsored by Factom Protocol draws on the W&M Blockchain Lab’s unique multidisciplinary approach. Decentralization and governance in the blockchain space are not another case of blockchain jargon. They mean what you would expect them to. Decentralized governance relates to decision making on various aspects of a system, including: resource allocation, voting rights, software updates, membership rights, and consensus. Different governance structures can influence different social outcomes, such as power dynamics, sustainability, participation, wealth distribution and more. A preliminary deliverable will include an analytic annotated bibliography on current governance literature. Follow on research may include a multidisciplinary faculty/student team to produce an academic paper and offer suggestions for enhancing the Factom Protocol governance structure. 

The impacts of academic research on decentralized governance could result in proving the success of a necessary component of truly decentralized organizations. The implications of this are far reaching, making possible projects like a decentralized digital records system for the homeless where a 3rd party isn’t responsible for hosting the authorization credentials for the users. A leak of this sensitive user data could, for instance, expose people such as those escaping domestic abuse.  

W&M Blockchain Lab is committed to research that supports decision-making and developments that can positively impact the needs of many. This gift will allow the Lab to engage in research that is both social and technical, affording a multidisciplinary group of faculty and students the opportunity to influence different layers and sectors of the blockchain space.